‘Up until that moment when he raped me, I was a normal happy kid … we were just a normal, happy family ... but once he raped me, he took everything. He took my soul, and in some ways, in my mind, he took my identity.’
Clark grew up in Melbourne in the 1970s and attended a Catholic high school run by the Christian Brothers. Discipline at the school was harsh, and the Brothers would use ‘either a ruler or a strap, and that was just commonplace and you knew that if you crossed the line there’d be some consequences’.
Clark told the Commissioner that ‘at times I didn’t agree with some of the violence and that was simply because of the way … [the] society that I lived in, and the people that I lived around … while we were disciplined, and rightly so, there was nobody being struck by rulers or straps in suburbia’.
One day when Clark was 16, he was off sick from school while both his parents were at work. One of his teachers, a Brother he trusted and regarded as a role model, came to visit. When Brother Andrew asked to see Clark’s bedroom, Clark ‘didn’t give it a second thought’ and led him down the hallway.
After asking Clark if his legs were sore from football training, Brother Andrew began to massage them. ‘I felt a little uncomfortable but dismissed it because I had no reason to distrust him, in fact, I would have trusted him with my life.’
Clark told the Commissioner that when Brother Andrew began to undress, ‘this was my first ever sexual encounter and I completely froze. My mind couldn’t grasp what was going on. I knew straightaway it was wrong but I was just numb and frozen, because it was just so incomprehensible what he was doing’.
The Brother kept telling Clark that he cared about him, and that everything would be all right. ‘Every fibre of my body knew it was wrong but I couldn’t move. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I was there but I didn’t feel like I was there.’
When Clark began to resist, Brother Andrew became more aggressive. He then raped Clark anally and orally, and as he left the room, told him ‘Don’t bother telling anybody, because nobody will believe you, because I’m one of the most respected people at [the school]’. Clark told the Commissioner that the Brothers ‘had this belief that they were invincible … that they could do whatever they wanted’.
Clark said that ‘one of the things I felt the most guilt about and for a long, long, long, time, up until maybe the last couple of years, was the guilt that I actually got an erection during this process’. He now understands that his reaction was that of a normal 16-year-old boy in that situation.
After the assault Clark changed. ‘I became withdrawn. I became angry at a lot of things … the last two years of school were difficult, but I guess back in those days, there was no way, shape or form that you could even imagine talking about it with anyone.’
Clark felt that ‘because of what I’d been indoctrinated with … I then naturally felt that God must be doing this through him … I must’ve been punished because he was God’s representative’.
Clark recalled that after the rape he ‘went from being submissive to … always questioning authority and, you know, sometimes probably pushed it too far’.
In the mid-2000s, Clark was diagnosed with clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, after a number of traumatic events in his life, including the sexual abuse, caused him to attempt suicide. He told the Commissioner that he has never been able to maintain a relationship, ‘because … I never felt I was good enough or worthy … How can you give love when you don’t love yourself’?
The first time Clark told anyone about the sexual assault was at a motivational weekend, in front of a large crowd. He told the Commissioner that ‘it was probably the first time that I felt that I was taking some of my power back … Even though I had an identity … that was an outward identity. But as a person, as an individual, I still had no idea who I was … I’m still, as far as I’m concerned, a work in progress … I want to take my power back’.
Clark believes ‘the universe only … gives people opportunities when they’re ready’ and by coming forward to the Royal Commission it was an opportunity for him to get ‘some closure on different levels … This has been something … I’ve been leading up to … since I was 16 years of age’.
Although Clark is seeking legal advice about compensation from the Christian Brothers, he believes that ‘there’s no amount of money that can compensate for somebody taking someone’s soul. You can’t quantify that’.
Clark told the Commissioner, ‘This is more than just about me now … I’m going to find as many forums as possible … to tell my story, because it’s not about me anymore. I would be just blown away if one human being, one male, one female would hear my story … who had never, ever sought help … [rang] somebody … to get their own help. That’s my motivation now’.